The Pacific Northwest Climate CIGnal
The Climate Impacts Group (CIG) issues a quarterly electronic newsletter designed to provide updates on regional climate and climate-related research, meetings, and topics of interest to Pacific Northwest (PNW) decision makers and resource managers. The first newsletter was distributed in January 2005.
To subscribe to the newsletter, please visit the CIG's "climateupdate" list serve home page. You can also subscribe to the newsletter by sending a blank email to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pacific Northwest Climate CIGnal
Issue #21, Spring 2010
In this Issue
- Announcing the Retirement of CIG Co-Director and Founder, Edward Miles
- PNW Climate Outlook
- PNW Streamflow Forecast Update
- Update on Washington State Climate Change Adaptation Planning
- Climate Change and Threats to American Pika Habitat
- Conference Announcement: The First Annual PNW Climate Science Conference
- US EPA Climate Change Webinars and National Workshop
- CIG Publications
- CIG in the News
Ed Miles, Co-Director and founder of the Climate Impacts Group (CIG) and Center for Science in the Earth System (CSES) and former director and current professor at the School of Marine Affairs (pictured above), is retiring in June 2010 after more than 35 years of service at the University of Washington.
Dr. Miles received a Ph.D. in 1965 from the University of Denver’s Graduate School of International Studies, only three years after graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. from Howard University. Dr. Miles’s contributions to ocean governance, climate science, and academia are significant. In addition to extensive teaching and mentoring at the UW, Dr. Miles has served as:
- Chairman of the Ocean Policy Committee, National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council (1974-79);
- Member of the Executive Board, Law of the Sea Institute (1972-81 and 1985-89) and President (1989-93);
- Chairman of the Legal and Institutional Task Group on the Implications of Disposal of High-Level Radioactive Waste into the Seabed and Advisor to the Executive Committee, Seabed Working Group, Nuclear Energy Agency, OCED, (1981-1987);
- Director of the UW School of Marine Affairs (1982-1993);
- Consultant to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (1993-1994);
- Member, Climate and Global Change Advisory Panel, Office of Global Programs, NOAA (1996-2003);
- Trustee, the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment, Washington, D.C. (1999-2007);
- Distinguished Research Award, UW College of Ocean and Fisheries Sciences (1999);
- Member, U.S. National Academy of Sciences (since 2003);
- Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (since 2005);
- Member of the Board of Directors, Union of Concerned Scientists (2008-present);
- Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (since 2009); and
- Founding member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences.
(See Dr. Mile's SMA faculty page for more details)
In addition to directing the CIG for the past 15 years, Dr. Miles is also the Virginia and Prentice Bloedel Professor of Marine and Public Affairs at the School of Marine Affairs, a Professor at the Evans School of Public Affairs, Adjunct Professor at the School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, and a Senior Fellow of the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean.
Upon retirement, Ed intends to maintain an active role in the research on ocean acidification and the ramifications for marine ecosystems and policy measures. Leadership at the CIG and CSES will be assumed by Nathan Mantua, CIG Co-Director and Associate Research Professor at the UW School of Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries, and Amy Snover, Associate Director of the CIG.
A public symposium will be held in honor of Dr. Miles's retirement from 1:00-5:00 pm on June 4, 2010. The symposium, entitled “Environmental Governance: Challenges in the 21st Century", will consist of panel presentations, discussions, a lecture delivered by Dr. Miles entitled “Whither Ocean Governance?”, and a reception. For more information, please visit the symposium website.
The 8 April NOAA El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) diagnostic discussion is for ENSO "to continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2010 and transition to ENSO-neutral conditions by Northern Hemisphere summer 2010." Read more on the outlook for the Pacific Northwest...
Below normal streamflows were forecasted for the winter-spring season and these forecasts were confirmed by the observed streamflows over the past three months. The River Forecast Center's monitor of current runoff conditions for the Dalles station on the lower Columbia River support the forecast for lower-than-normal streamflows. This forecast was made based on the predominant land surface conditions during the months of February and March. Below normal snow water equivalent (SWE) and soil moisture characterized the conditions during these months in the lower Columbia. Alternatively, the upper reaches of the Columbia River and regions south of the lower Snake River underwent normal to above normal land surface conditions. Early April precipitation shifted the below normal conditions dominating the western drainages of the Coastal Range and the Puget Sound to above normal streamflow forecasts.
The April 26th forecast agrees with the one made in late January indicating below normal streamflow in the Columbia and Snake River basins for the summer. However in contrast to January’s forecast, April’s values exceed 30% below normal for many stations located on the Snake River Basin, such as Lower Monumental, Little Goose, Hells Canyon, Oxbow, Brownlee, and Boise. This reduction in the latter forecast of streamflows is primarily attributable to the below normal snowfall during the late winter/early months, resulting in a poor SWE-season by the start of spring. In terms of the soil moisture, drier-than-normal conditions predominated in the Columbia Plateau and the Blue Mountains. Both the NOAA and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) forecast neutral ENSO conditions, transitioning to La Niña conditions later. As a consequence of these ENSO conditions, the skill to generate streamflow forecasts will diminish, defaulting to reproductions of historical streamflow simulations. The current forecast from the Experimental National Hydrologic Prediction System, however, captures the poor snowfall season with a streamflow forecast 20 and 30% below normal for much of the Snake River and the Columbia River basins for the summer months.
As part of the procedure outlined in Sections 10-13 of Washington Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5560, the Washington Department of Ecology has convened four Topic Advisory Groups (TAGs) to develop a statewide strategy for preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change. The TAGs are organized topically around four central themes:
- 1. TAG 1: Built Environment, Infrastructure and Communities – focusing on impacts to community and public services, including transportation, energy, waste, water, and information infrastructure.
- 2. TAG 2: Human Health and Security – focusing on impacts associated with poor air quality, thermal stress, extreme weather events and the capacity of health response systems.
- 3. TAG 3: Ecosystems, Species and Habitats – focusing on impacts and adaptation strategies for species, ecosystems and habitats both at both fine and broad scales
- 4. TAG 4: Natural Resources - focusing on impacts and strategic responses for working lands and waters statewide, including forestry, agriculture, and water quality and resources.
The TAGs are composed of representatives from a wide range of local and state agencies, utilities, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and the research community. The TAGs will use best available science on the impacts of climate change to (among other things):
- Select priority issues for adaptation planning;
- Summarize key vulnerabilities and risks related to each priority issue;
- Assess the capacity to act on these vulnerabilities and barriers to action;
- Identify adaptation strategies;
- Identify technical resources and opportunities for partnerships that will support adaptation strategies;
- Recommend funding strategies for Washington that support suggested strategies; and
- Develop priority recommendations for monitoring and ongoing research needs.
TAGs will use the CIG’s 2009 Washington State assessment as a basis for constructing the state’s adaptation plan in addition to other sources, including a series of white papers being prepared by the National Wildlife Federation for TAG 3.
Over the next year the TAGs will meet separately and jointly (via specially scheduled cross-TAG meetings) to discuss strategies, recommendations, and cross-cutting issues for the statewide response. A final strategy is due to the Washington State legislature by December 1, 2011.
More information on Washington’s TAGs is available through the Washington Department of Ecology. Future updates will also be available through the Climate CIGnal.
In October 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) required the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to conduct a review on the status of the American pika (Ochotona princeps) in order to determine if the threats to this species warrant its protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The pika is a small mammal inhabiting fields in alpine and subalpine mountainous regions ranging from central British Columbia to New Mexico and the Sierra Nevadas of California. The thermal range of this species is very limited and when temperatures climb above 79oF, the pika can undergo higher mortality rates from heat exposure. As a result, the pika has sought higher elevation habitats in its southern range with increasing temperatures. In January 2010, the FWS completed its review of the threats to this species and its habitat and submitted its findings to the Federal Register.
The FWS assessment found that among the risks posed to this species’ habitat, including infringement from livestock, fire, invasive species and roads, the greatest threat to the American pika is rising temperatures. An important component of the FWS analysis was the climate modeling conducted by the CIG. The CIG used two methods to model temperatures in the region, both described in the Washington State Assessment and this overview document. The first method, statistical downscaling, analyses low spatial resolution input from global models and statistically downscales the data to determine finer scale climatology. The second method, dynamical downscaling, applies high-resolution regional models to simulate small-scale climatological processes. The benefit of applying both methods is that they both corroborate the warming trend in the future. The FWS found that projections of warmer temperatures in the future, particularly in the summertime, have implications for pika habitat, but did not warrant the listing of this species under the ESA. More details on the findings are available in the FWS pika report.
Registration is now open for the 1st Annual Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference, which will be held in Portland, OR on June 15-16, 2010. The conference provides an opportunity to learn about the latest in Pacific Northwest climate change and climate impacts research. Conference topics include:
- Climate in the PNW: Past, Present, Future
- Climate Impacts on: Hydrology & Fresh Water; Terrestrial/Aquatic/Marine Species & Ecosystems; Managed Resources & Human Systems
- Greenhouse Gas Sinks & Fluxes
- Human Responses & Policy Initiatives
Registration is now open via the conference website. The registration fee is $40. All registrations must be received by close of business on June 6. Students are free. Space is limited so please register early to guarantee a spot.
The Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference is sponsored by a consortium of research groups and federal and state agencies, including the:
- UW Climate Impacts Group,
- OSU Oregon Climate Change Research Institute,
- Idaho’s EpSCOR Program,
- Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium,
- C3 - Climate Change Collaboration (a federal agency consortium),
- Washington Department of Ecology, and
- Oregon Dept of Land Conservation and Development, among others.
The US EPA is hosting a series of climate change and water management webinars in May that are open to the public. Details on the webinars and conference are provided below.
- Legal Training Webinar: Adapting to Climate Change. May 19, 1-2:30 p.m. EDT. Joseph Siegel of EPA Region 2 will address the need to adapt to current and projected climate change impacts. It will include discussion of international, federal, state and local laws and policies on adaptation and examine how different sectors of the economy are responding to climate change impacts. The presenter will suggest collaborative approaches to making legal and policy decisions that will minimize litigation and ensure effective adaptation planning. This webinar is part of a collaborative effort brought to you by the Legal Training Network and the National Enforcement Training Institute. Space is limited.
- Webinar: Climate Science 101 – Understanding the Science Behind Climate Change. May 25, 1:00-3:00 p.m. EDT. This EPA webinar will provide participants with an understanding of the basics of climate science, including 1) Major sources of greenhouse gases (GHGs); 2) How GHGs contribute to changes in temperature, precipitation, and frequency of extreme weather events; 3) What is the difference between climate and weather? 4) What is climate change mitigation? What is climate change adaptation? 5) What are global climate models and how do they contribute to our understanding of climate change? 6) What are other sources of information that contribute to our understanding of climate change? This is a pre-workshop webinar for the Resilient Water Management Strategies for a Changing Climate Workshop (see below, June 8-10), but is open to the general public as well as workshop participants.
- Workshop: Resilient Water Management Strategies for a Changing Climate: Developing Decision-Support Tools for Local Communities. June 8–10, 2010. EPA regional workshops will be held concurrently New York, NY and San Francisco, CA. Collaborative meeting technologies will be used to foster cross-region learning and collaboration. Topics include: 1) Climate Change Science: An overview of the current state of the science, including how state and local governments are downscaling global data; 2) Water Management Tools: The latest tools for managing climate-related changes to water quality and quantity; 3) Implementation Case Studies: Pilot programs and case studies of state and local government efforts to identify, prioritize, and manage water quality and quantity concerns related to climate change.
Recent CIG publications include the following:
Visitacion, B., D.B. Booth, and A.C. Steinemann. 2009. Costs and benefits of stormwater management: Case study of the Puget Sound region. ASCE Journal of Urban Planning and Development 135(4):150-158, doi:10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9488(2009)135:4(150)).
Sarachik, E.S., and M.A. Cane. 2010. The El Niño-Southern Oscillation Phenomenon. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
Recent media stories featuring CIG research and/or researchers include the following:
- Climate Change: Long-term vs. short-term (KUOW, April 22)
- Scientists still sparring over future of Pacific Northwest snowpack (The Oregonian, Feb. 17)
- Mudslides bury California, East gets record snow and Idaho suffers through dry winter (Idaho Statesman, Feb. 17)
- Snowpack ‘pretty darn low’ (The Olympian, Mar. 21)
Additional news items are available at CIG in the News.
Posted May 13, 2010